Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Judging A Film By It's Picture

Alan Moore's Watchmen is one of my favorite comics. Ever. That it's being made into a movie is a little anxiety-producing for me. One never knows how such things will turn out; seeing something one loves done poorly can be overwhelmingly...sad.

Geez, that sounded geeky.

Ain't It Cool News posted this still photo of The Minutmen, the group of heroes Watchmen is based on, which operated in the late 1930s and through the 1940s. It's a promo for the upcoming flick, scheduled for release in March, 2009.

I dunno... I mean, it's supposed to be 1940 and all, but...

What do you think?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Jumper

Jumper aspires to be The Matrix. Fifteen minutes in, though, and it's clear the flick nowhere close; it's all style, and very little substance.

David Rice, played through most of the movie by Hayden Christensen, has the ability to transport himself instantly across space to any place he can visualize. That's a cool premise, and certainly enough for director Doug Liman to work with to present the audience with an above average sci-fi flick. The addition of Samuel Jackson as the mysterious leader of a group of people who hunt and kill jumpers is inspired casting.

Jackson is so good at being bad he can make a plain-load of snakes look scary!

But Jumper tries too hard to be special. Prior to the release of the flick, talk was already going on about a trilogy. Maybe because of that, the flick is chock-full of plots: Rice's mother is a member of the mysterious Paladins, the historical predators of jumpers; his girlfriend heads into danger with him without hesitation (even though she hasn't seen Rice in eight years); Rice's father is a ne'er-do-well, a poor father and even worse human being; other jumpers watch nervously as Rice brings the Paladins closer to killing them all off.

That's too much plot for any movie. Particularly an ambitious movie that doesn't have the substance to meet it's own expectations.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

High School Quotes I Remember: Quote # 5

(I make no judgements about content. I'm simply purging some of the clutter that's been inside my head since 1983.)

"I'm a moss hunter. I hunt and sell moss."

~ Recent (1982) high school graduate Eric Moore, when asked by the father of Eric's new girlfriend about his career aspirations.



Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The One That People Who Know Me Will Understand

One of the reasons I've, generally, admired people who have true spiritual faith is a selfish one:

I'm envious.

When I say something stupid that upsets someone I care for, I carry that burden with me for days or weeks. (Sometimes, for a lifetime.) During times I'm anxious about upcoming events I'm moody, and irritable to even those people I love. Sometimes I'm so obsessed with trivial aspects of the past that I forget about the present and the future, ruminating instead on the "I shoulda" and "If I woulda" 's of life.

Self-reflection is sometimes so exaggerated in my thought process that I struggle through the day-to-day aspects of life. Most people don't notice, but it's always there.

People I've met who have true, devout faith, don't seem to live that way. They live more in the moment, and have some higher power (a deity, or a philosophy) upon which they can lay their troubles and their challenges and move on.

It's that which I envy most.

This blog post is a good example of what I mean. Someone wished me a happy birthday this morning, and I made a wise crack about how, by 33, Jesus had accomplished so much. And while today I'm ten years older than he was when he died, I've accomplished little in comparison.

The joke went flat, of course. But the question remains:


Accomplishment.

What is it, really?

Tell me how it applies to your life.

Maybe I'll learn something.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Flashback! Bad Movies That Haunt Me: Re-Animator

"One more game of pool, then let's put in a DVD. Whattya say?" My friend Danny is a movie freak, and back then had several hundred titles in his game room to choose from. Although he seemed partial to horror flicks.

Real partial.

He's a doctor, and one would think he'd see so much blood and guts during a typical workday that he wouldn't be up to having a healthy obsession with slasher flicks.

One would be wrong.


"Ever see Re-Animator?" he asked. I told him I hadn't. He put it in.


Motherofgawd...

Sweetlordhavemercy...

Jesuseffenchrist...


Danny said it was funny, and that the intended humor was an important element in the flick. I didn't peek though my fingers long enough to see the joke.

I'm still haunted by it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Scenes Of A Sexual Nature

The Netflix envelope came, and I busted up the seam to see what Mrs. Film Geek had sent to our home for our weekend viewing pleasure. I pulled out the disc and read: Scenes Of A Sexual Nature.

Bada-bing! My weekend just got a whole lot brighter.

Although I'd never heard of the flick, the title alone made me excited to see it. A bottle of wine was in the fridge, the kids could be put to bed a little early; this flick might be the final puzzle piece needed for a night of passion.

And then we put in the disc...

Although there were lots and lots of scenes (the movie is a series of vignettes, after all) none of them are of a sexual nature.

I repeat: None of them are of a sexual nature!

Where's truth in advertising?

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Elephant In The Room: Part 2

My family didn't travel off the farm much during my kid years. There was an occasional trip to Maryland to visit my mother's brother, and we ventured into Montgomery, WV, once in a while when a relative was recuperating from heart surgery at Montgomery General Hospital. But our experience outside Nicholas County, WV -- all-White Nicholas County, I should add -- was extremely limited.

(I should add briefly the excitement I felt as a kid traveling into Montgomery. The Murphy's Department store there, with it's escalator, live pet shop and in-store cafe felt positively cosmopolitan. The few Saturdays I spent there as a pre-teen were thrilling.)

I was about ten years old when, during a road trip to visit my uncle in Maryland, my dad became lost while driving through Baltimore, and ended up taking the family into a very urban part of the city. To a kid from the holler, the tall buildings and as-far-as-the-eye-could-see pavement was as close to a big-time city as I'd ever been.

It was late, as I remember. Or early, depending upon your perspective. It was after midnight, and I remember finding it odd that everything was still lit up. Street lights were glaring, and people were everywhere. Kids were playing, and people were standing on the streets talking.

Most of the people were black.

In the Chrysler with me was my father, mother, grandmother and two siblings. (You could pack a bunch of people into an American made car before the invention of car seats.) Dad saw a police cruiser parked along the street, and decided to pull over and get directions back to the interstate from the officer.

The rest of the family sat nervously in the Chrysler.

While my dad talked to the officer a dozen or so feet from the car, several young African American teens walked toward our car. As a group they stood beside our car, talking. A couple of them even leaned against the car, as if we weren't in it. Suddenly, my grandmother raised her hands to the sky and blurted out:

"Dear Lord, if they're gonna kill us, let them kill us quickly!"

(I recall immediately questioning why she would pray for a quick death. If I were to pray, I reasoned, I would pray to God to deliver us safely from harm's way.)

My dad finished getting directions, jumped back into the car and we headed back to the interstate. We didn't talk about how anxious we were while sitting there, but we all knew.

It took several miles for that anxiety to decrease.

My grandmother wasn't a racist. She was a kind, loving woman who was generous and friendly to everyone she knew. She was a woman who had little power in her life, and very little experience with people who were dramatically different than she. The social inexperience that comes with geographical isolation provided her few clues about what to expect from those who were different, and how to best interact with them.

She wasn't a racist. She was "uncomfortable."

Something about that sounds familiar.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What My Girlfriend Wore To The Prom



You had me at "hi"
Then I saw the flow'rs on top.
All's I thought was: "bye"





By Dave Hogan, Getty Images

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

High School Quotes I Remember: Quote # 4

(I make no judgements about content. I'm simply purging some of the clutter that's been inside my head since 1983.)

"Yeah, it looks nice. I like it a lot."

~ Me, to my 10th grade girlfriend on the day she came to school with new french braids, and asked: " Do you lke my new hairstyle?"

She looked so much like Princess Leia...


(No, no, not that Princess Leia.










Yeah, that'd be the one.)




...that I was embarassed.



I felt superficial and shallow, even while I struggled with the guilt and embarrassment. We broke up shortly afterwards.

We were both probably better off.


Monday, May 12, 2008

The Orphanage

The Orphanage, El Orfanato in it's native Spanish, is a movie made in the tradition that generally scares the hell outta me. Films like Rosemary's Baby, Nosferatu, The Others --even the original Saw--scare me more with visual teasing and through inference than the use of graphic violence and excessive blood-letting.

When Laura (a former orphanage resident who was adopted at age 10) grows up and marries, she wants to give back. She adopts Simon, a young boy with a serious disease, buys the orphanage she once lived in as a child and becomes determined to open a home for children with disabilities.

After being in the home for a few weeks, Simon begins talking about his all-too-realistic imaginary friends. They have names and direct him in daily game-playing, he says, and they were once real kids who lived in the orphanage. Simon becomes so involved in his activity with the imaginary playmates that his parents become concerned. As they tighten down harder on Simon to keep him grounded in what they think is reality, Simon becomes more defiant.

On one particular day Simon disappears during his play-time with his friends, setting up the film's main plot--Laura reaction to his disappearance, and her efforts to find her son.

The Orphanage is a Spanish film, so utilizando subtítulos era necesario para mí. Like Pan's Labyrinth, though, the story unfolds so well that subtitles were not always necessary. The acting in the films was top shelf, and the cinematography was quite good. In fact, The Orphanage was so good and so well received in Spain that it was that country's submission to the Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Film category.

It didn't win. But it well could have. It's a bit predictable, but quite good.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Whatever Happened To... Suzi Quatro

45 million records sold worldwide, and the guts to turn down a Leather Tuscadero spin-off from Happy Days because she didn't wanna be typecast.

Looks like Ralph Malph missed out.




Saturday, May 10, 2008

Expensive Parrot-head

Recently, USAToday ran a quick 5 Questions For Jimmy Buffett in it's Lifestyle section. In addition to being, essentially, a cover band of himself these days, Buffett is also an author. His latest novel, Swine Not? A Novel Pig Tale is about a pig that lives in a hotel in New York.

Ahem...

USAToday's questions were fairly simple, but they didn't ask the one question that I've wanted to ask Buffett for years:



How the hell does a "frozen concoction maker" sell for $379.00?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Film Scenes That Matter: The Caine Mutiny

Humphry Bogart played paranoid as good as, or better than, anyone. This flick -- and this scene -- should be required viewing in every college psych. class in the country.

(Or, at every ROTC monthly informal.)

This scene is just remarkable.




Thursday, May 08, 2008

Film Scenes That Matter: Schindler's List

Too few people are able to recognize that exact moment in their lives when everything they believe, and everything they hold dear, changes.

This is that moment for Oscar Schindler.



Wednesday, May 07, 2008

My Geekness Runneth Over

In the cash-green wake of it's recent hit, Iron Man, Marvel Studios has announced plans for upcoming super-hero based flicks, including:

  • Iron Man 2, with a release date of April 30, 2010. It looks as if all the cast will remain intact for the sequel;

  • Thor, with a release date of June 4, 2010. With no lead signed, I'm now in the process of growing my blonde locks longer;

  • The First Avenger: Captain America, to be released May 6, 2011. Let's hope the red and blue divide in this country is healed by the time Cap arrives. Otherwise, Mr. Rogers will be sorely disappointed;

  • The Avengers, to be released in July, 2011. I'm most excited about this super-hero team-up. If it's done well, DC might finally be tempted to put out a decent production of the much cooler Justice League of America.


Oh!


And the press release also announced a possible production of Ant-Man.


(They had me up until that Hank Pym moment.)



Tuesday, May 06, 2008

P.S. I Love You

P.S. I Love You is everything I generally hate in a movie: it's overly sentimental, sometimes trite, mostly predictable and too often superficial.

But God help me, for some reason I liked this movie.

Hillary Swank's character, Holly, spends most of her adult life focused on the future. She's ambitious, and never very content with her current standing in life. Although a nice enough person, Holly's discontent causes her to be unhappy with her life, and creates some mild tension with her more relaxed, have-fun-with-life husband, Gerry (played by Gerard Butler).

Early in the film Gerry dies, leaving uptight Holly alone to become even unhappier, and depressed. Once fixated too much on the future to be happy, Holly is now so obsessed with memories of the past that she can't function effectively.

Until she receives Gerry's postmortem gift.


Prior to his death from cancer, Gerry arranged for a series of letters to be delivered to Holly. Each letter provides fun and memorial insights into life, designed to teach Holly to enjoy the moment. To pay less attention to the future, and to leave the past behind. Gerry helps Holly understand that it's only in the moment that one can be truly happy, and it's on that foundation that a genuine and meaningful life can be lived.



It's a lesson more folks should pay attention to.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Iron Man

I admit I was skeptical.

When I heard the news that Iron Man was going to the big screen, I smirked. I dig character driven super-hero flicks--Batman Begins and The X-Men flicks are my faves-- but I despise movies that rely too heavily on special effects to tell a story.

You know what I mean: you saw Hulk too, didn't ya?

Exactly.

So when Iron Man went into production, I scoffed. And the reason I scoffed was that I expected this:



Clunky.

Awkward.

Silly.

I was more hopeful when I saw Robert Downey, Jr. was to star as Tony Stark. He can play conflicted really well, so the casting seemed right. But still, I was skeptical: I predicted it would make $100 million, but would be on par with Daredevil, Elektra or Superman Returns. A major disappointment.

Huh uh...

I was wrong.

The "clunk" and "silly" I expected never happened. In fact, this is what I got instead:



Sleek.

Smart.

Believable.

Robert Downey, Jr. is a big reason Iron Man works so well. His Tony Stark is materialistic, greedy and obsessive, but still is able to connect with the audience a sense of vulnerability and realism. Downey makes this movie work as much as--and maybe more than--the incredible effects.

I knew this movie was special when Mrs. Film Geek called her friend later that night and, when her friend asked her what movie she had seen, began talking about the flick with the kind of excitement and geeky enthusiasm that the makers of Hulk could only wish for.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford


Pretentious: pre-ten-tious
–adjective
1. full of pretense or pretension.
2. characterized by assumption of dignity or importance.
3. making an exaggerated outward show; ostentatious.

4. any movie which features political pundit James Carville, for any length of time